Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE #61
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Colours: Tamra Bonvillain, Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letters: Josh Reed, Rob Leigh
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Justice League #61: The new Justice League is trapped on a world devastated by a super-powered war, and Brutus hungers for a new home of his own-our Earth! With their powers gone haywire, the League must fight their way out of a post apocalyptic Thunderdome of depravity and desperation. On the run with Batman, Naomi learns more dark secrets of her birth world’s broken legacy, while Hawkgirl and Black Canary battle through the henchmen trenches. But where are Superman and Black Adam, and what kind of trouble is Aquaman in? (Hint: it’s bad.)
And in the Justice League Dark story, Ragman joins the hunt! Zatanna, Constantine, Etrigan, and Detective Chimp hit the books-literally-in a possessed library, as Merlin’s plan takes shape before them…and spells doom for the universe.
I find that Brian Michael Bendis’ work for DC to be very hit-and-miss. While his Young Justice was fantastic, his writing on the Superman titles was all over the place. He could write a good issue, and then deliver a horrible story the next. But most issues were just mediocre. I was hoping that his Justice League might be more like his Young Justice than his Superman, but this issue has left me a bit less hopeful. The lead story in Justice League #61 was all over the place, with parts being good, bad, and middling.
So let’s start with the good. First off, David Marquez’s art is great. I have absolutely no problems with the art. His rendition of the Leaguers are all majestic. I find Brutus to be a very bland, generic villain, but at least Marquez makes him look like he’s worthy of taking on the League.
I do like the idea that Naomi’s homeworld somehow is amplifying the League’s powers. It’s interesting that this is not necessarily the advantage you might expect. The League has to adjust for their enhanced power level and learn to compensate. Superman initially loses control of his heat vision. And it isn’t clear what’s going on with Aquaman, but it doesn’t look good.
I also like the revelation that Batman and Superman have a emergency communicator channel they call their “World’s Finest frequency”. That’s a nice tribute to the long-running Batman/Superman team-up title, World’s Finest Comics.
Now before I get into the story’s negatives, I have to state that the backup story by Ram V and Xermanico was faultless. This chapter rounds out the team by bringing in Rory Regan, a.k.a. The Ragman. Ram V’s lineup for this iteration of the team is a perfect selection of DC’s supernatural heroes, but Ragman has always been a favourite of mine. I would love to see him return in an ongoing series or mini of his own.
I found it interesting that Etrigan switched out with Jason Blood once they enter a bookstore. As Jason explains, “Etrigan’s got the stomach for a lot o things, Constantine. But bookshops or libraries, I’m afraid, aren’t one of them”. If Etrigan doesn’t like sticking around when he’s bored, I am guessing that Jason will be around a lot of the time as well. I am sure that Ram V can use this to make Jason as much a member of the team as Etrigan is.
The Library of Babel is a fascinating addition to the DCU. A library containing every book ever written or that will be written is a bibliophile’s dream. At first I thought they were hinting at Lucien’s library in the Dreaming, but that’s all the books that were never written. I can’t wait to find out more about the Library of Babel and it’s librarian, the Man of the Book.
Well, as I stated above Brutus seems to be a rather bland, generic villain. While beautifully drawn, there seems to be very little about him that makes him stand out from any other villain of the month. And none of the other characters from Naomi’s homeworld stand out much so far either.
And I do have some quibbles about the team’s membership. First, why is Hippolyta listed on the introductory page? She hasn’t joined the team yet and she isn’t even in this issue. Listing her as part of the team doesn’t make much sense at this point.
And now, may I present the winner of the 2021 DC Comics News Award for the Stupidest Scene in a Comic Book to Brian Michael Bendis. In the scene, Naomi is panicking and rambles to Batman. While her panic is understandable. She’s brand new to the heroic life and is thrown into the middle of a dangerous adventure on an alien world. Batman then calms her down with the single word “Ducktales”. Naomi immediately gets herself under control, then asks “Why did that work”. And Batman replies “I don’t know. It just does. Remember it. You’re Welcome”.
What the holy Hell did I just read?! That makes absolutely no sense at all. It’s utter gobbledygook! I think it’s Bendis attempting to write some Whedonesque dialogue, but completely failing. First off, it’s stupid to think that would work. Second, it’s very unlikely that Batman wouldn’t know why it work if it actually did. And third, even if Batman didn’t know, he would never admit that.
Overall, the main story is okay, but not spectacular. I’d give Justice League #61 a score of 3 out of 5 if it weren’t for Ram V’s impeccable backup story. I’d give his story a 5/5. Hopefully, Bendis will get his story back on track next issue, but who knows when it come to a Bendis story? Anyway, I have no doubt that Ram V and Xermanico’s Justice League Dark story on its own is worth the price of the book. So, if Bendis’ main story is good too, then that’s just gravy.